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Inside the workshop with Norwegian textile artist Solveig Aalberg

We speak to Norwegian artist Solveig Aalberg about her lifelong fascination with textiles, and explore her Oslo-based workshop.

Solveig Aalberg is a unique artist based in Oslo. Since graduating from the National College of Art and Design (today a department at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts) her passion has been weaving, with textile art in all it's complexity the central feature across her impressive portfolio.

 

Whether creating for international exhibits or commissions for cathedrals and state buildings, her individual style shines through, and she is always looking for new and exciting ways to express her style.

 

Solveig is a big fan of the HÅG Capisco for many years, we caught up with Solveig to learn more about her affinity with textiles and check out her studio workspace.

 

Hi Solveig, what is it about textile that you find so special?

 

As a person I have always been curious, expressed. Even as a child, it was natural for me to express myself through sewing and embroidery - as a youth I designed my own clothes. Eventually, I learned to weave, drawing became part of the process.

 

Colours and textures are important to me. I often dye the yarn I use, twist threads together, weave and sew with stitches. I also work in periods with digital aids, then I draw drafts in photoshop and get these done mechanically in a digital jacquard web in the Netherlands.

 

Do you have any particular themes or ideas that run throughout your work?

 

System and lack of system are topics I work with. I am inspired by mathematics, poetry, and the rhythm, intensity and power of music. I read the world around me through an organization of structures and repetitions. I transfer this to expression in textile materials. Other visual artists' immersion, energy and intensity in their work can also be sources of inspiration for me.

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Solveig's recent exhibition, Continuum, recently displayed at the SOFT Gallery, Oslo. The making of each miniature relates to criteria that are partly determined in advance – for instance, the yarn density, the colour palette, the number of weft colours and repetitions – and partly during the creation process, with stitches, twisted yarn, and knots being added, and by treating the woven starting points in various ways.

Photographer: Øystein Thorvaldsen

So what are you currently working on?

 

Actually, I just finished a solo exhibition "Continuum" at the Soft gallery in Oslo. I showed 90 mini fabrics, a series of textiles I have worked with for 4 years. It was all about repetition and displacement - A rhythm that is repeated but at the same time is changing. The rhythms are created in the weave & colours and colour combinations are especially important here.

 

I also just published a book about it, which includes 120 photographs over 280 pages, as well as an essay on woven miniatures by Ole Robert Sunde, available in English and Norwegian.

 

Right now though, I am working on a weaving for an antependium at Røyken medieval church. An antependium is a textile that hangs on the front of the altar. The previous antependium is from 1714 and will be replaced. It is a challenging and very time-consuming task, I weave in tapestry technique and dye the yarn myself to achieve shades that harmonize in the beautiful church.

 

It sounds like a lot of different types of jobs before you get your finished project, what kind of workspace do you need?

 

I do most of my work from my wonderful studio, which has many workstations. Firstly there is a table in front of the window where I like to sit or stand and draw. If I need a large mounting table, I have many loose tabletops or easels that I use. In one part of the room, I have a gutter boom and various tools in connection with weaving. I also make sure to have free passage through the longitudinal direction of the room so that I can twist yarn (a kind of Reeperbahn) I have three different looms that I switch to use, depending on which project I have. I also have a dyehouse with two sinks, hobs and a centrifuge where the yarn dyeing takes place. And then, on top of all that, there is a lot of office work to do to pursue an art, such as application writing and various written preparations. Lots of space!

 

Mostly I work from 8 to 16 every day, but the days are very often much longer. Textile art requires many working hours. Then it is nice to be able to go down a flight of stairs from the apartment and down into the studio in the evenings as well. Then I get to use the whole day!

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Inside the workshop, we can see various looms and weaving machinery.

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Featured: HÅG Capisco 8106, with silver footbase

We know you are a big fan of the HÅG Capisco. What is it about this chair that makes it the perfect fit for your workspace?

 

I move the chair around the studio where I need it. The shape and adjustments allow me to sit both tight and relaxed in it and gives me the flexibility to do the creative tasks I need to do whilst also supporting my back and shoulders. I have wanted a HÅG Capisco for many years. One year I was so lucky to get the chair as a birthday present! Now I have had the chair for four years, and expect to use it for as long as I live!

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Thanks for sharing your story with us Solveig! If we want to find out any more, where can we go?

 

You can get to know my art better at www.solveigaalberg.no. The book "Continuum - woven miniatures" can be purchased from all Norwegian online bookstores,  or send a message to sol-aa@online.no

 

Additional Photographry credits: Anders Elverhøy

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